January 26, 2021

Retired geology professor delivers annual ‘Hammond Lecture’

On Thursday, Feb. 12, Michael Goodchild, retired Geology professor at the University of California, Santa Barbara, delivered the Geography department’s annual “Hammond Lecture” in the Lindsay Young auditorium.

On Thursday, Feb. 12, Michael Goodchild, retired Geology professor at the University of California, Santa Barbara, delivered the Geography department’s annual “Hammond Lecture” in the Lindsay Young auditorium.

The lectured, titled “Space, Place, and GIS”–GIS standing for “Geographical Information Sciences”–explained what GIS and showed Goodchild’s views on its flaws and how his proposals could give the process more accuracy, a feature Goodchild thinks GIS is currently lacking.

“I’m going to be a bit controversial”, said Goodchild at the beginning his lecture.

The “controversial” areas of his lecture stem from his disagreement with how GIS is currently conducted. Goodchild said GIS in its current form is too vague, and it would be much more useful if it could produce a greater deal of accuracy. Goodchild proposed it should be done with more of an emphasis on names rather than vague location parameters.

“The other day, I was in bed with my wife, and we both took out our phones and decided to use GPS to find our locations. It turns out that we were supposedly 200 meters apart from each other!” Goodchild said.

Goodchild  used this example to illustrate the flaws in the system, claiming the current system values aren’t accurate enough. He argued that having a GPS system that tells you the general area of a destination sometimes just isn’t specific enough.

The lecture was more about the definitions of “space” and “place”, but also delved into what geographical information sciences really is. Throughout the hour-long lecture, Goodchild spoke on such topics as neogeography, the role of social media in map making and why we don’t study place names when he thinks we really should be doing so.

 Edited by Courtney Anderson

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